“You Can Fix Anything But a Blank Page”

I’ve always gone through cycles as a writer.

When I was in high school I used to write almost every day. If I wasn’t working on a story or a piece of fanfiction, I was scribbling words down in a notebook, a piece of dialog on my hand, or an idea on scrap paper. I was sad a lot of the time, lonely without many friends, and writing helped me to get my mind off things. I could build myself a new world or a new life out of words, I could avoid things for a little while or imagine them differently. For a lost teenager, that was a gift.

I took some time off when I got to college. I became busy with school work, made new friends, and basically just stopped feeling inspired. I wasn’t sad, so I didn’t feel the need to reinvent, to make up stories, or lose myself. I was happy with the world that I had; it was already new. So I stopped calling myself a writer and focused instead on becoming a reader, again. I started doing the 52 Book Challenge and rediscovered a love of books that had been put on hold while I’d been writing.

My sophomore year of college I started taking creative writing classes. I read poems and short stories, critiqued my classmates’ pieces, and started getting a feel for creativity again. But I still didn’t feel inspired. Nothing I wrote for class every sounded right; it felt forced and lacked depth. I felt coerced into writing contemporary “high-concept” pieces instead of the genre fiction I preferred and worse, I started wondering if I could write about emotions that I wasn’t feeling myself.

It wasn’t until this past year that I really started writing, again. It’s not that I’ve finished much of anything, but for the first time in four years I’ve made a conscious effort to stop putting the word “aspiring” before “writer” in my biography. I started writing down anything knowing that someday it might lead me to something and appreciating what little I was writing for its potential. Just because it wasn’t a novel, didn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile.

Famous romance author Nora Roberts once said, “You can fix anything but a blank page.” I understand now that this is true both in life and in writing. You can’t fix what hasn’t been started, can’t improve on something that never took off. It might be that you write the ending first, or maybe the middle. It might be that what you’ve written gets scrapped out or changed in editing. Maybe you’ll make bad choices or follow false leads, but as a writer I’m beginning to understand that every story has to start somewhere and that I can’t wait around for my story to find me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a published writer. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the right story or the right words or the proper timing. But I don’t want to look back one day and regret that I didn’t try. I want to look back knowing that I did everything I possibly could, that I worked hard and made an effort. I want to see a life of seized opportunities, not wasted ones. I want to see pages full of words that I can fix, instead of blank ones that I never even tried to fill.

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6 thoughts on ““You Can Fix Anything But a Blank Page”

  1. You write therefore you’re a writer. This strikes a chord with someone who has just rediscovered creative writing after a gap of many years. Good luck, I’m looking forward to hearing more.

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  2. Wow, I really love the way you write – the momentum of this piece just pushed me forward and compelled me to read on. I feel myself being able to relate to your words, not just about the love for writing and reading, but also for the way we’re almost coerced into writing these ‘high-concept’ pieces that lack emotional depth or personal connection. A really great philosophy you’ve offered us as well – better just try than fear trying. Awesome post.

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  3. I can relate to this post on such a profound level. Just like you, I was always writing when I was younger. In high school, I would find myself scribbling thoughts and sentences in the corners of my notebooks instead of paying attention in class. I wrote because I desperately needed to be heard, and what better way — especially as a teenager, than to write it out? When I went to college, I didn’t pursue writing, but that’s a completely different story. I still wrote here and there, but never with the same enthusiasm as before. I did, however, complain a crap load about how I “wanted to be a writer,” but there was always more talk than work. I landed a few freelance gigs doing news for a local town website where my college was located, but it was news. It wasn’t creative. It wasn’t anything my heart ached for. Also like you, I took a creative writing class.. I think my junior year. I fell in love with writing again and made a conscious effort to continue to do what moved me. But I fell off again. I guess when you don’t practice something enough, you tend to forget why you loved it in the first place. I graduated college in 2011 and started my blog in 2012 as an attempt to get back to the root of writing. I floundered a lot with juggling my blog and life with work and grad school. But sometime in the last few months, I realized that my dream to “be a writer” will never come to fruition if I don’t write. Just like you’re saying, and like that Nora Roberts quote. So I can relate to you so much in that we need to write and keep doing so. I guess at the end of the day, we can’t promise we’ll ever be published, but we can promise that we’ve tried.

    So to conclude what appears to be a novel, I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. Thank you for feeling what I am feeling without even knowing it. I hope you continue to find it in yourself to keep writing — to jot down your feelings and words and thoughts even if you’re not motivated. One day all of that effort will mean something.

    xo Jackie

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m always glad to hear that others share my experiences and understand how I feel. I forget that sometimes and its so nice to be reminded. 🙂

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